Friday, March 30, 2012

things I love right now.

I mentioned at the first of the year that my goal for 2012 is to stay focused on the present and to stay locked and loaded on the here and now.

I had no idea how difficult such a task would be. My mind is always working, always thinking about what's coming next and even worse, looking back to analyze what has already happened and how I could've behaved differently to help create a better outcome.

One way I have been successful in my goal is in recognizing the things, regardless of how simple, that make me happy. These are things that on even the crappiest of days, can bring a smile to my face.

Here is my list of 5 things that I love right now.

1. My yard.

I'm absolutely using "my yard" liberally here, since while I do live in the house with these lovely tulips in front, I have done nothing to contribute to my lovely yard, which is by far the best in the neighborhood. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking through Candyland.

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2. Garden & Gun magazine.

I have loved Garden & Gun since I picked up my first copy a couple of years ago. The magazine, which CBS news says is "not about gardens or guns," makes the south come alive on its pages and every time I read it, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have been raised here.

This week, thanks to friends John and Katherine, I was elated to learn that I made it into the magazine. Well, not me, but a tweet that I sent about their list of "50 Best Southern Bars." Not exactly the way I'd planned on first appearing in a magazine, but I'll take it.


3. My new orange pants.

I bought them when I was in New York last month at Joe Fresh and they make me happy. Part of the reason I love them (besides that they're bright and fun and summery) is because I bought them before I knew colored denim is all the rage this summer. Could it be that I have an eye for the trends? Probably not, but it's nice to think so.

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4. My new food processor.

My desire to make fresh pesto led me to make this random and somewhat hasty purchase. I have very little kitchen space and even fewer cooking skills, so I have no business owning such a fancy piece of kitchen equipment.

When my mom asked me what other foods I could make with my new appliance, I said honestly, "I have no idea," and immediately started Googling "things to make with a food processor."

So far, I have only made two kinds of pesto with it, but I have high hopes and big plans.

5. 4th & Swift

When my foodie friend Emily told me that 4th & Swift is currently her favorite restaurant in Atlanta, I knew it must be good. When I had a weeknight off, I decided to take advantage and go. Only I didn't quite realize how fancy this North Avenue restaurant is - not exactly appropriate for an impromptu Monday night catch-up dinner. Luckily my friend Kim was game and we dined alfresco on a delectable brussels sprouts with green apple salad, lobster dumplings and seared Ahi tuna.

And desserts, of course. Two of them.


Since she and I hadn't caught up in a while, we also inhaled plenty of gossip and ridiculous stories. A rare Monday night treat.

It was lovely.

What do YOU love right now?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

sorry for partying.

I've never been a huge St. Patrick's Day fan, which is a shame, really, because everyone else in America seems to love it. Plus, I look Irish, I’ve been to Ireland, I enjoy Guinness and Black Velvets, Irish coffees, and the color green. What's not to love?

I guess it's not that I DISlike it, I just find the Shamrock Fests, Lucky Fests, Any (insert name here) Fests less fun, more mere opportunities to pay a lot of money to wait in long lines for beers next to girls dressed like sluts. I get it - this kind of debauchery is right up some people's alley, but it's not really for me. Maybe I'm a curmudgeon or just lame, but the older I get, the less I like hanging out in large crowds of people I don't already know. Unless music is involved. And then I make an exception.

So going to Savannah - home to the third largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the country (according to - had never really interested me. The crowds, the lines, the college drunks - I just assumed it'd be like amateur hour for party-goers. But when my friend Lisa moved there, I decided, even without the promise of good music, to make an exception and give it a go.

Plus, it's Savannah. And I love Savannah.


So I, along with another willing participant Kristin, hit the road early Friday and headed for the Georgia Lowcountry, excited to see Lisa and what this celebration was all about.

Somewhere between Macon and Dublin, Georgia, Kristin said she'd never been to St. Pat's in Savannah either. Then she asked, "So, what is it? What are we going to do?"

I laughed out loud and nearly ran off the road, because she'd asked the very question I'd wondered to myself since agreeing to go. Kristin, much like myself, was just along for the ride. Lisa said, "Come to Savannah," and we said, "Ok." No questions asked.

Maybe we didn't know exactly what we were getting ourselves into, but within just hours of arriving, we were walking around the picturesque city with cold beers in hand (thank you, no open container law), so I was happy.

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This little girl saw my camera, ran in front of me and begged me to take her picture, saying, "Put me on TV!"

After our walk/tour, we cleaned up (which always takes longer when there are three women asking each other, "Does this look okay?" "How should I wear my hair?" and "Are these shoes too tall?" - my shoes were definitely too tall, by the way; huge mistake). Then we headed downtown, eventually winding up in a beautiful bar, Circa 1895, drinking dirty martinis, meeting (and then offending) new friends and telling stories for hours. I couldn't help but thinking that I had misjudged Savannah's St. Patrick's Day weekend.

If this is what it's all about, then count me in.


On Saturday, our plan was to meet Lisa's friends at Oglethorpe Square to watch the parade. But when Saturday morning came, sleeping in became way more important. Lucky for us, the local television station televised the event, so we didn't miss any of the "action."

I realize I could offend everyone in the city of Savannah (except for Lisa who agrees with me), but I thought this parade was rather sad. Parades need floats or clowns or balloons or all of the above. Not old people with green jackets on golf carts or little kids dressed in jumpers waving at their friends. Just because a parade is long (and this one lasted about 3.5 hours), doesn't mean that it's good.

Even though the event was lame, I still felt a little guilty missing it, since that's what the entire festival centers around. But we did watch it, in our pajamas, in the comfort of Lisa's apartment, making fun of the parade announcers, playing with Lisa's dog Murray, and making each other laugh. I guess you could say we had a little parade of our own.

A freak parade.


We eventually made it out, stopping at one of the squares that resembled a Georgia North Campus tailgate party only everyone was wearing green instead of red and black, and then down to River Street where most of the almost one million people that descend upon Savannah bring their shenanigans to party. As it turned out, our little freak parade at Lisa's paled in comparison to the jean shorts convention going on down by the river.

It was a sea of debaucherous green.


Once we secured a table at Tubby's Tank House, which despite the huge crowds and long lines didn't take nearly as long as it could have, we watched the passersby, accepted cat calls from strangers and waved at anyone who looked our direction.

Some guys yelled at us. We took pictures of them.



By the time we'd made it to Tubby's, we were starving. So we order one of everything off the menu (not really, but close) and ate until we were stuffed.

I also tried to dance with a police officer, but he declined, and said he didn't want his picture taken. His loss.

On Sunday, we ended the weekend with coffee at Gallery Espresso, and later tacos at Tybee Social Club.


My weekend did little to disprove everything that I know to be true about myself - the craziness of Savannah on St. Patrick's Day is, on paper, not really my scene. The crowds, the scantily clad women and creepers whistling - it was a little too much sometimes.

But I love a good party. And Savannah throws excellent parties.

So excellent, even, that sometimes my friends and I have to leave the party before 10pm to go to bed. I'm ok with it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

adventures in house hunting.

My real estate agent and friend Shelley took me house hunting this week.

I understand this may be confusing news, considering I was just telling you how much I have longed to move to New York.

Let's just say I'm not always completely (or ever) sure what I want and I like to keep my options open.

Plus, Shelley and I both like real estate and hanging out with each other, so a morning of house-hunting is always enjoyable, and, we learned Wednesday, an opportunity for comedy.

We approached the third house with some trepidation, since the selling agent had given specific instructions about how to handle the dogs that lived there. Shelley and I could hear the dogs before could see them; the barks coming from the house were loud and not at all friendly. While Shelley retrieved the key, I opted to see exactly what kind of canines we were dealing with. I gasped when through the window, I found this:


Someone isn't excited about moving.

Monday, March 12, 2012

long distance lover.

The last time I went to New York, I lost my camera in a cab (or in the street, or in a restaurant; truthfully, I don't know where I lost it, I only know that in the midst of taking pictures of the most glorious snowstorm of my life, I went from having it to not having it anymore). The loss was devastating, not because of the camera itself, but because of all the pictures that I had on the memory card inside.

I returned to the big city last month, armed with a new (fancy!) camera, determined to prove to myself that I'm not as terrible of a photographer as I had so far proven.




My trip wasn't about taking pictures, though New York provided colorful backdrops and vibrant scenery gorgeous enough to camouflage my inexperience and it just so happened to fall the weekend before I had to present my end-of-photography class project. But honestly that's not why I went.

No, I really I went to see old friends and colleagues, feel cold air on my skin, and enjoy the kind of inspiration that only comes from a city that rarely sleeps.

I also needed a Valentine, and I knew if I asked nicely, New York would be mine.

And he was. Perfect.

Along with friends Lauren, Katy, Molly, Elise and Laura, my beloved offered me a long weekend full of delicious meals at his finest restaurants, spontaneous street dance parties at strange hours with new friends, endless shopping excursions at sample sales and several day-long walks to nowhere in particular.

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We went to a "fashion" show (I'm using this term liberally) and then conducted our own cat-walks and photo shoots on the lower East Side, drank rich coffee during the day and Dark n' Stormys at night, and laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. A lot.


I found my happy place.

I felt alive.


Strangely confident in a place that used to intimidate me so.


I have longed to make New York my home for a while, but lately I've started to doubt if that will ever happen, and while I am saddened at the thought, I am also trying to be honest with myself about what I am capable of. I feel too young to give up on a dream I've had for a long time, too old to start over in a new place, and just old enough to understand exactly how much I'd be giving up if decided to do it anyway.

Sometimes I wonder, also, if the love affair I'm having with New York only exists because our absence from each other makes my heart grown fonder. Are we in a long-distance relationship that survives so lovingly only because of the long periods of time we live a part? What if we lived together and discovered we hated each other? I don't know if I could bear it.

When my trip was over and it was time to leave, I climbed into the back of a cab that smelled so bad, my eyes started to water. Always looking for a sign that will tell me what to do and how to feel, I thought the cab may have been a metaphor for New York and a reminder that I needed to escape the stench of the city and get back to the south. On the other hand, I considered, what if the smelly cab was the smell of the disappointing reality I was heading back to and needed to escape?

My beloved was sending me mixed signals. How very cliche of him.


Nonetheless, as I waved goodbye to my long distance lover, promising that I'd see him soon and maybe next time I'd stay even longer, my eyes legitimately started to cry - and I honestly wasn't sure whether I was weeping because I was leaving my love, painfully aware that our get-togethers might only ever be long weekend rendezvous or if the stench from the cab was really that offensive.

Some things, I guess I'll never know.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


As a journalist, I strive to be as unbiased and as unemotional as possible when reporting the news. "Stick to the facts," "show both sides," "play it down the middle," are familiar battle cries of my profession. But when it comes to people like my friend Tom Sponseller, whose mysterious disappearance and death has recently covered the pages of South Carolina newspapers, I feel so much emotion and I only know one side.


Tom was a dear man and he was special to a lot of people. He was a devoted husband and a loving father and grandfather; a supportive and loyal friend. A tireless advocate for South Carolina business and a trusted and dependable colleague. He was soft-spoken and cool; hard working and laid back; proudly Southern, but always welcoming of "outsiders."

If the phrase, "opposites attract," is true, then it certainly applies to Tom and me. In a group, we were polar opposites – he usually hanging out on the periphery of the room, occasionally dipping out to refill his drink or smoke a cigarette while I would usually position myself in the middle of the crowd, trying to entertain anyone who will pay attention to me.

Despite our differences, Tom and I really liked each other. He treated me like a daughter, one time lecturing me for taking a year to buy a car when the one I'd been driving was about to break down. He expressed interest in my career, and we often discussed news and politics. He loved to give me a hard time, teasingly asking me when I was going to quit my job and go work for Fox News, that "real news network."

He was an avid reader of this blog and often read my entries before my parents had a chance to. My dad would sometimes call me and say, "Tom just called me and said your blog had him laughing so hard he was crying. What did you write about me?" He never said so, but I got the sense that Tom was rooting for me in life, just like he rooted for his own kids.

Tom and his wife Meg and their daughter Meghan are the Sponsellers I know the best, spending many Charleston and Long Beach weekends with them. I always look forward to our time together because they're all so easy to be around. There's no drama, just good times.

Watching fellow journalists play fast and loose with facts and personal details about the life of my friend has been beyond difficult. My professional life -- wanting to know every sordid detail of the story so that I can break it down and share it with the word has collided, in the most agonizing way, with my personal life --- wanting to break down and weep for Tom's loss and challenge any speculation or negative comments about him.

The search for Tom is over, and for that, I am thankful. But he won't be returning to us like we'd hoped and I feel no closure. My heart is heavy.

I will be always be sad when I think about these difficult weeks those who love Tom have endured wondering where he was. I worry that I will always have questions about his death and his last moments here on earth - such is the case, I suppose, with seemingly senseless deaths such as his.

I find myself trapped between wishing that there was, or is, something more that I could do to have prevented this end and understanding that I have to accept this very difficult reality. I wake up thinking, "This can't be my life." There is no way that such an awful tragedy could happen to the people that I love. And there are still so many things that remain a mystery.

But as the upsetting and downright awful commentary plays out in the papers and on the local news, I will do my very best to remember Tom not for the way his life ended, but for the way he lived it -- with integrity, kindness, and the profound recognition that the most important things in life aren't things at all. It's the memories you make, the experiences and laughs you share with the people you care about that really matter.

Good books, good restaurants, and the iPhone Fat Booth app are good too. At least Tom would say so.

I am so lucky to have made so many memories surrounded by you, Tom, and your beautiful family; we have certainly shared quite a few laughs and many delicious meals. I sure wish we had time for a few more.

Rest in Peace, Papa Tom.